Time for a mining moratorium

Queensland Country Life - Mark Phelps - 9/9/2010

LNP Member for Darling Downs Ray Hopper is on a mission to convince his Opposition colleagues that a moratorium should be placed on the development of coal seam gas mining within the Condamine alluvium on Queensland’s highly productive Darling Downs.
Mr Hopper’s call followed the release of a damning report report last week (see QCL p1, 2-9-10) showing that the massive underground water reservoir used to irrigate some of Queensland’s most valuable farmland is at risk of being drained and irreparably damaged if the coal seam gas industry is allowed to develop in the region.

“I am speaking as the local member and saying as the alternative government we have to recognise how important the Condamine alluvium really is,” Mr Hopper said.

“What this report shows is that this resource is at risk if we allow the development of the coal seam gas industry.

“We cannot quantify that risk and it is unclear how long it may before we understand the extent of the damage. But it is very clear that dewatering coal beds here will damage this water resource.

“The problem is that if we damage the alluvium we may not know for even 40 or 50 years if there is a problem.

“By that stage the mining industry will be gone and agriculture will be left with a problem that cannot be fixed.

“I’m certain there is no-one who is willing to take that kind of risk on the limited farmland we know is essential to feed ourselves.”

The report by independent hydrologist John Hillier confirmed that the Condamine alluvium is hydraulically connected to the Walloon coal measures. These coal reserves are currently being dewatered by energy companies for coal seam gas production.

Mr Hopper’s call for a moratorium came the same day as Opposition Mines and Energy spokesman, Jeff Seeney, urged the Bligh Government to implement a policy of mandatory re-injection of water from coal scheme gas projects.


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